Las Vegas woman living with HIV for 25 years pushes to end the stigma

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 12:17 AM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - December 1 marks World AIDS Day each year. More than 11,000 people in Clark County are living with HIV. In 2021, 441 were newly diagnosed.

The lights on Las Vegas City Hall turned red Thursday night to help raise awareness and end stigmas.

At the West Charleston Library, a series of short films called Visual AIDS shared stories of people living with HIV around the world and here in the US.

“I was diagnosed in 1997. I was 27 years old,” shared Davina Conner. Conner is the Executive Director of Poz Haven Foundation which helps people living with HIV in Las Vegas. Conner maintains black women are not represented enough when it comes to promoting HIV awareness and their stories needed to be told especially when it comes to stigma and mistreatment, obstacles she and others have overcome.

“Life is good. We are living strong lives with HIV and we want people to know that you can live a life with HIV and not be afraid,” Conner asserted.

When Conner first started treatments 25 years ago, she was on 14 pills that would make her sick. Now she only takes 2 pills with no side effects. Conner adds the medication also lowers the viral load to prevent transmission.

“Takes the weight off our shoulders. We feel good about who we are now. We don’t feel infected,” Conner explained.

Conner believes when people learn about the advances in treatment, it will make a big difference and ease the fear of getting tested.

HIV can affect anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, or age. The CDC says talking openly about HIV, getting tested and knowing your HIV status can help in the fight against AIDS.

Thursday, the Biden administration also announced a new global strategy to end the HIV and AIDS pandemic by 2030. Biden requested $850 million for HIV prevention and care programs in his 2023 budget and proposed the creation of a nearly $10 billion national PrEP program meant to guarantee pre-exposure medication and services for uninsured and underinsured people.